On October 25 London's Metropolitan Police Authority refused to allow London's police to participate in the Home Office pilot scheme to provide some non-firearms officers with Tasers.
Taser stands for Thomas A Swift's Electric Rifle. It was invented by a man from Arizona who called it after the teenage science fiction character Thomas Swift. Very funny ha ha.
It can deliver a 50,000 volt electric pulse into a person's body, causing acute pain and effectively immobilising someone. You've probably seen it demonstrated on TV when police officers in Britain have allowed themselves to be 'Tasered'.
The PSNI's chief constable Sir Hugh Orde wants to use them here. He plans to 'pilot' 12 Tasers he has ordered.
The policing board says he should not because he has not complied with the Equality Impact Assessment the Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires.
There are two issues here. First, there is the controversial nature of Tasers.
They can kill people. Not, mind you, on the scale Amnesty International claims and Amnesty has rather damaged its case by over-egging the pudding – but people do die.
Most recently, a Polish man visiting Canada died within minutes of being Tasered at Vancouver airport on October 14.
Tasers are also controversial because although they are supposed to be used only as a substitute for a lethal weapon like a firearm or in circumstances where a police officer is in danger or a violent person is a danger to others, in practice there has always been 'mission creep'.
Police have quickly started to Taser people for refusing to comply with a police instruction or even because a person has not obeyed quickly enough.
Secondly, in the context of the north, there is the attitude of the chief constable, who has been planning to proceed with his pilot scheme regardless of his responsibilities under the Northern Ireland Act.
Now you may disagree about whether Tasers are lethal or whether police will behave themselves using them but for the chief constable to act in disregard of advice from the human rights advisers of the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) and the vote of that board itself is unacceptable.
He has been told not to deploy Tasers. He says he isn't deploying them but intends only to pilot them. How do you pilot them without deploying them to some officers?
The Police Act 2000 says the NIPB shall hold the chief constable to account in complying with the Human Rights Act 1998. Yet the PSNI took a decision about Tasers in May in advance of complying with the act or informing NIPB's human rights advisers.
One of the advisers, Keith Starmer QC, says this action was a misunderstanding of the statutory function and responsibility of the NIPB and that the legal and human rights implications of introducing Tasers have not been sufficiently thought through.
He was being charitable.
The chief constable says piloting Tasers is an operational decision. It's not. It's a policy decision.
Clearly he is anxious to be alongside forces in Britain where a Home Office minister allowed chief constables to deploy Tasers for use by firearms officers trialling Tasers began in 10 forces in September.
Unfortunately for Sir Hugh, he's in the north and therefore can't get round his requirement to comply with the Equality Impact Assessment in the Northern Ireland Act.
It might actually help him. It means there have to be tests to see if there is a different effect from Taser use on women, children, people with disabilities and so on.
Clearly there will be.
What is it? What happens if someone is deaf?
What happens if someone has a cardiac defect?
Would it not be madness to proceed in defiance of advice and without complying with the act and leave himself open to legal action?
More importantly, would it not be madness for the policing board to permit him?
There is a certain arrogance in the chief constable's insistence on proceeding despite the instruction of the board on October 4 that there should be no deployment prior to completion of the Equality Impact Assessment.
How is it that the Metropolitan Policing Authority can be effective in holding their commissioner to account yet our lot can't?